Janet Hale casts a cool eye on reservation life, and takes an even more jaundiced view of an outsider's chances at a mostly...

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THE OWL'S SONG

Janet Hale casts a cool eye on reservation life, and takes an even more jaundiced view of an outsider's chances at a mostly black junior high school, in this story of Billy White Hawk, an Indian boy shook up by his cousin Tom's suicide, who goes to live with his older sister in a California city. Contrary to established patterns this begins with the most violent and dramatic scene -- Tom shooting himself in front of Billy and two girls after accidentally burning down his family's shack. Following that there are stretches of desolation as Billy broods in the cabin he shares with his drunken widowed father, and later marks time in his sister's tacky apartment. At school where Billy is persecuted by the black kids his only consolation is art class and the prospect of entering a city-wide exhibit, but when he is finally goaded by classmates to make a speech telling off both white and black Americans, even the art teacher who had encouraged him finks out. Back at the reservation where he buries his father, Billy finds strength in his Indian heritage and confidence that things will be ""all right"" when he goes away again somewhere else -- a vague and somewhat arbitrary solution to be sure, but the inside view of both of Billy's bleak worlds and the novel perspective on racial intolerance makes Billy's problems worth a hearing.

Pub Date: April 5, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974